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[God Oracle] The Dagda

Dagda the Good–Abundance

[Card Description:  A greatly overweight man with uncut red hair and beard and happy, crinkly eyes, his tunic barely covers his huge rump and his cloak barely goes to his elbows, and yet his great penis drags on the ground under his kilt. Behind him, he drags a massive club, held up by a forked wheel that creates ditches on the ground behind him. He wears the torc of kingship, and congenially offers you a meal from his cauldron of abundance, which bubbles and smokes cheerily with no fire underneath it.]

Charge:

Welcome, Welcome!

Have a bite

Enjoy the company of a God!

I am the Dagda

Joyful King

Great vast man

(if you know what I mean!)

All providing father

Of food

Enjoy a bowl and

Laugh with me

And have a second helping

With the Good God.

With me, son

You are safe

Alive and fed

So eat up!

Have a drink

While I spin the tales

Of a fool and a King

Statistics: Culture of Origin: Ancient Celtic People, Tuatha de Danann. Location: Ireland. Age: Middle Age. Element: Earth, Fire

Mythology: Called the “Father God” of the Celts because he always had the best interests of his people at heart. He protected crops, ruled over time, and was a God of magic. Although very powerful, he is often depicted as filthy, a bit crude and shabbily dressed. Dagda is known for his magical club, which was so big it had to have a wheel so it could be dragged. One end killed people while the other brought them back to life. He also had a sacred cauldron which always had enough food for each man that would eat from it. In one myth, when the Formorians were thinking of invading Ireland, Lugh sent Dagda to keep them busy until Ireland could prepare for battle. He asked for a truce, and the Formorians granted it, but only if the Dagda would eat a huge ditch full of meat porridge with thousands of gallons of milk. He ate every last drop and fell asleep with the Formorians laughing at his fondness for food. When Dagda awoke, his enemies were gone, but he was too bloated with food to run after them. Indeed, his path was halted by a beautiful woman who knocked him on his rump and demanded that he carry her, as she was the daughter of the Formorian king. They wrestled about, and in the end, with Dagda’s charm overcoming her, she promised to fight on his side. She, of course, was the Morrigan, the Goddess of Battle, so victory was secured.

Meaning in Reading: So here’s the Dagda, who is really kind of embarrassing to look at, even to the ancient Celts. He is, in fact, laughable. And yet he is always looking out for others by protecting them and feeding them. He is a king, even if he doesn’t look like one. The Dagda does not get caught up in how things look because he knows that it is character that counts. For us it means that we don’t need the newest electronic, the most expensive jeans, or to get our hair cut at a fancy salon. What matters is this: are you safe? Are you well? Is your belly full? You can be grateful for what you have when your needs are being met. And when you need more, there will be more, if you know where to go and who to turn to—that’s not about stuff, it’s about what is on the inside. A happy, satisfied person will always seem to have enough, and we should strive for that kind of satisfaction instead of looking outward for it. Are you this satisfied?

Reversed: There is always enough, but you must recognize when enough is enough. But our needs—that is, what we need to survive—are not the same as the things that we want. The Dagda was able to eat more than anyone because, like us, he loves and needs to eat. He didn’t need to drink the whole thing, but he can because he is a God. We can’t. Too much of anything is a bad thing: too much food leads to obesity, too much exercise leads to anorexia, too much desire leads to addiction. The Dagda shows us a lust for life, but is it satiable? At some point you have to tell yourself to stop before you make yourself sick. The Celtic God of Abundance always has plenty, but you must be able to tell for yourself when enough if enough. Is now one of those times?

Connecting Ritual: Make for yourself a magnificent meal. It should have at least five courses and use simple, fresh ingredients. It should have protein, grain, veggies and fruit. If you can make some Celtic dishes, all the better. Lay it all out on the table before you and behold the abundant spread fit for a king (you!). Thank the Dagda for the incredible generosity. Acknowledge every dish and where each part comes from—go beyond the simplest “it comes from the store” answer. How far did your food come to get to you? How many people had a hand in getting this food to your table? Farmers? Pickers? Truck drivers? Grocers? Once everyone has been thanked, tuck in! Here’s the hard part—do not simply eat as much as you can. Rather, savor every dish, enjoy the flavors, but save room because you have to eat a bit from each course! The goal is to eat and enjoy the food until you are full, but to stop yourself from becoming like the Dagda at Formorian’s camp. The more food you have available to you, the harder this will be. You will have a great deal of leftover food. Eat these leftovers in the days to come and feel the Dagda’s abundance blessing you, or better yet, offer some of your delicious food to others.

For an additional challenge, purchase a big piece of meat from the butcher, such as a roast, and cook it as part of your feast. The next day, use the meat to create something else, like fajitas.  After eating that, put the leftover meat, some veggies and grains in a crock pot and make your own version of the Dagda’s sacred cauldron. The next day, you could probably cover it with mashed potatoes, bake it, and make shepherd’s pie. I guarantee that roast will feel never ending!

Interesting Fact: Maslow set forth a theory about people that guides many different professionals in their work. His hierarchy of needs teaches us that one cannot move to a higher level until the needs of the one below are satisfied. Begin at the bottom of the chart and move up:

In a very real way, the Dagda represents the foundations of this pyramid of needs. Experiencing Him, and other Gods, in your life can ultimately support all of them, if you work with His energy and interact with what He represents. The Dagda ultimately encourages us to enjoy the physiological necessities.

Ritual Purification and Nudity

Dear Witchful Thinking,

It is very fascinating to hear about some of the teachings of your church.  I was interested in your references to nudity during rituals — Victorian thinking on this is quite a contrast, but in other cultures, nudity is often associated with rites of purification — even old testament teachings suggest, but don’t come out and say that people may go through rituals where clothing is taken off or put on, depending on the symbolism intended.  Also, that people are “washed” in various ways to become cleansed.  Any of this part of your tradition?

Cheers,
Prof. Suz

Dear Professor,

I’ve never been asked this before, so I’ll do my best to answer. At the church I attend, because it is for public worship, we do not do nude services, although I know of a semi-private Pagan church that does, but they have a lot more property [and a lot less neighbors] than we do). At a festival, where we use other property, there might be nudity in the ritual. Nudity is not associated with purity, but with rebirth. Wiccans have a sacred writing that is pretty consistent throughout the diversity of groups called the “Charge of the Goddess”. The text is spoken aloud by a Priestess who has invoked the Goddess, so the words are divine (even the tiny changes made are correct–so the text is quite alive. See some variation here). Anyhoo, the Goddess tells us that, as a sign that we be free from slavery, “you shall be naked in your rights” and that “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”. So there is divine approval for both nudity and sexuality as worship.

Some groups do worship in the nude and are described as “skyclad”. But this is typically done with tight-knit groups. The focus is usually on freedom from societal pressure, being beautiful as you are, humor, healing, sensuality, expressing your true/divine nature etc. I’ve been to festivals where a coven will host an open skyclad ritual (so it is open to people outside their tradition, but only to people at the festival, who are probably all Pagan). They have a way of doing it which takes the focus off of the sexual excitement of seeing naked people (which is something I think the rest of the world needs to figure out too, that nudity does not equal sexual excitement).

We aren’t particularly focused on purification on the whole, at least in my tradition. Although we ritually purify ourselves before entering sacred space, the purpose is to clear your mind of negative thoughts, because it is believed that thoughts are amplified in sacred space, and the Gods can see and hear you better. Wicca does not believe in original sin, nor follow any other Christian thought like that, so there is nothing inherent to purify. However, purification might be a part of a ritual or spell. I recently did a type of purification ritual after people were talking trash about my writing on the internet. I had started to feel that what they said might be true or hurt me in real life, and honestly made me feel kind of tainted–plus, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. So I did a purification ritual involving mindful bathing, visualization and meditation, and am now “clean” of these thoughts. The magic is in the psychology.

Ritually bathing another does not come up very often, but I have seen it associated with initiation into a religious mystery, and as a symbol of being cleansed after birth or rebirth. So the dead are ritually bathed, as they are being reborn in an afterlife. Babies are ritually bathed by others after birth, and during a ritual which introduces them to the Gods (different from baptism in that there is no commitment on the part of the child).

I hope that answers your question!

At the Temple of Apollo

I stand at the door of Apollo’s shrine–I’m not sure why I have come. Whether I am simply drawn by the energy of this place, or by the serendipity of a short line, I know not.

The Pithia is at the door. She’s the mysterious prophetess of Delphi, and the most powerful women in the world. She invites me to share in her fumes–a heady incense that would take me ages to recognize. It goes straight to my head. She speaks to me, but her words make no sense. By the time she motions me to enter the shrine, my doubt clears and I enter the door. I glimpse the mosaic ‘Know Thyself’ as I commit myself to crossing the threshhold.

Somehow, my frivolous hat with kitty ears seems woefully inadequate to wear when you stand before a god. I couldn’t take it off fast enough.

He is glorious. A young man in a shining chiton of pure white and gold. Clean shaven and well groomed–he looks like that hot professor I never actually had in college. Behind him, a sparse altar with symbols sacred to Him; a vase, a bust of Himself, a crown of laurel, some soil from Apollo’s own birthplace, and several offerings of poetry and writing.

For the scarcity of time, two are allowed inside, and when Apollo the Sun God asks kindly what brings us here, I defer to the woman next to me. She is to be the caretaker and healer of young boys who have seen real trauma and experienced great loss. Boys who have had violence against them and no true father figures in their lives as they were in and out of the system. Suddenly my own desires for Apollo’s blessing seem shallow and contrived. I turn my gaze to the young Sun God, joining in this woman’s beseech, “Lord Apollo, can you heal them?”

“Although I have felt many heartaches and pains that mortals normally bear alone, I am compassionate to your blight where other Gods cannot be. But I cannot heal these young men. I can offer my love, empathy and protection,” he touches the woman, “but you must heal them.”

I can see her breaking down–the weight of such a responsibility is heavy, yet she knows Apollo will be standing behind her, guiding her actions as long as her intention is pure. She straightens herself and seems so brave to me. I know of Apollos loves and losses from my mythological studies. His understanding is real.

He turns to me to ask why I have come. I wring my cat hat and shuffle my feet–I wonder if Hermes has stolen the words out of my mouth, for suddenly I seemed to have more words than I could edit coming out of my mouth at His shrine not fifteen minutes ago. Now I stand before the God of decorum, right action, poetry…and my words and body language reflect none of these things.

“Er, it’s like this…” I begin, “I have all these projects–too many, really. I went to your sister Artemis to ask for her help in finishing what I start. And She said I should see you about, er, getting organized with my writing. Or something.”

That sounded dumb, so I try again, “I’m writing a book, you see. Several, actually. I’m well blessed by your inspiration, my Lord. I just can’t seem to accomplish anything.”

Apollo, the God of inspiration, of song and civilization seems to contemplate me a moment, “Is it one thing you wish to accomplish, or one big thing?”

“It’s huge!” I gesticulate widely in demonstration, “A big idea–a vision–I want to give to the community. It involves several separate writing projects.”

“I see.”

I thought his statement ironic.

“What is the action you must do to begin and sustain this project?”

My mind races–research, interview, find time, support myself, keep the lights on, make the computer work for me…

“No.” said Apollo, reading my mind, “You have to write. What is a book but an accomplishment of chapters? What is a chapter but an accomplishment of pages? Empires and encyclopedias are gained and created by a thousand accomplishments inside a thousand accomplishements inside a thousand accomplishments. Begin with the page. Write what you know. What you put there will be honest, true and perfect for you at that moment. If, when it is done, you find it not to your standards, then you do one of two things: You might honor Athena and delve into research. Or you might honor my sister Artemis, and accept is as practice, and try it again.

“If you are open, I will keep you well inspired, but to become overwhelmed by the big idea and never make accomplishments toward it–that is failure. But looking where you are and seeing how far you have come shows your many accomplishments. It is not a failure simply because you are not at the end.

“The sign above the door says “Know Thyself”, but unless you are a God, it is an impossible task. The goal is to strive toward it. Everything you do something to enrich that is an accomplishment.”

He seems done, but the magic is broken by noisy events outside the shrine. From my place in Apollo’s presence, I peer out the door over the green. I can see Ares stomping away from the shrine he shares with Athene.

“If you would just listen to reason!”

Without a word, but with many grumbles and a flare of cigar smoke, Ares pulls off his armor and kicks it to the ground, piece by piece, and heads straight for Aphrodite’s shrine. He pushes through the long line of worshippers, even shoving Her mermaid attendant out of the way. He swings open the door to Her shrine, and I swear I could see Aphrodite dismiss the Lord of War with a wave of her hand.

Apollo and the other woman and I look out. The young Sun God shakes his head, “My family is so…dramatic, sometimes. O dear. He’s not going into there, is he?”

Indeed, Ares slams the door at the shrine of his lover, and proceeds to a group of Sirens–fierce bird women who would sing to you lovingly as they play with your entrails. Their song lures Him in as they dance and sharpen their claws–the woman and I look at each other with worry.

“Fear not,” Apollo touches our shoulders and invites us both back into his shrine, “If anyone can handle their play, it is my brother Ares. Now, where were we? O yes.”

He blesses us both, and I leave the temple inspired by what I’ve heard and ready to write. But first, there are other Gods to visit. I step out of the shrine into Apollo’s glorious sunshine, and inhale the sweet air of optimism. I spare a glance back for the Pithia, who snakes into Apollo’s shrine–no doubt to drink up the words of prophecy he sends to her. I wonder what my destiny will be, and the outcome of this project. But first, I know, I must write…

Magical and Romantic Partners

April 30, 2010 2 comments

As you know, our boundaries about relationships is different from other peoples. In honor of Beltain I wanted to talk about a specific one.

Very likely, if you are just beginning your magical practice, this won’t be a problem for you, but as your practice grows and your magical identity deepens, you may want to consider choosing a magical partner.

A magical partner is a person with whom you do magical work with. This work could be spellcraft (like a two person coven), service to the community (such as leading a group), doing a Great Work, or a mature teacher/student relationship. A magical partner is someone you work closely with as you grow in the Craft. In Wiccan communities, your partner is typically the opposite gender. It is an unusual relationship when looked at from outside the community.

A magical partnership is not inherently a romantic or sexual relationship, although it can take on the characteristics. A magical partnership is based upon the work you do together, but the nature of the work can be very intimate and emotional, with or without sexual activity. The relationship is very much like professional dance partners.

Some things to consider when choosing a magical partner:

  • Magical practice: choose someone who has the same style that you do, or who magically thinks like you do, or is of the same tradition. Your styles need to mesh and come to some agreement about how you will go about your practice.
  • Your romantic partner: what would your spouse or significant other think about this magical relationship? What are the boundaries? At what point does it become emotional cheating? Think about what energy and parts of yourself you would be keeping away from your partner. Come up with some rules to avoid jealousy–remember that in a serious relationship, your partner comes first. Obviously if your magical partner is your romantic partner, then this is not a problem.
  • Focus and intent: what will be the nature of your work? Will you be working on a project? Leading and teaching the community? Worshiping a particular deity? Working on a particularly difficult psychological problem? Exploring other realms together? You and your partner should be on the same page.
  • On the Outside: how does this relationship look to outsiders? Not that it matters, on one hand, but you had best be prepared for rumors if you aren’t willing to explain yourself. If you are leading a Beltain ritual and one of you invokes the Goddess and the other invokes the God and you spend half the ritual flirting and making out with each other, people are going to wonder if there is anything between you and what your significant other thinks about it. You may tell yourself that it is just ritual and, like actors on stage, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but for the observers, the energy is there and it looks very real.
  • In the Pagan community: while those not in the know about your relationship may be whispering to each other, those in the know in the community may treat you like a couple. For example, they may invite you and your magical partner to a ritual or gathering, and neglect to extend the invitation to your significant other.
  • A magical partnership is very serious: the Karma and energy accumulated in a magical partnership is amplified, just like in Circle. Personality differences, psychological scars and spiritual crisis are more likely to come to the surface quickly in this kind of relationship. Luckily, you have this partner to work through it with! You will experience a deep sense of loyalty, almost like family, that comes from being emotionally intimate with someone else. This relationship is a chance to experiment, and the work you do here is likely to influence how you are in other relationships. In order to experience the best of the other, you will have to give them your best. It is a serious commitment.
  • This relationship has cycles: it begins with a lot of energy, experiences growing pains and conflict, and may eventually end or change form, just like any other relationship. It may not go in the direction you expect, but you will certainly grow and learn from it. Be prepared to commit to it as long as it is productive, and be ready to release it when it is time to move on.

Having a magical partner is a beautiful and intimate way to experience Divinity and do the work of the Gods. But it is a very mature relationship, both personally and magically, and must be thought through just like any other magical endeavor. Rather than searching one out, I think you’ll find that you’ll fall into one naturally as you grow in the community and in your Craft. You will end up working with people on rituals and may find a powerful energetic chemistry between you. You will likely end up partnering with someone you already know–partnering with a stranger is unwise when you consider the possible ramifications.

Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtowers!

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Dear Witchful Thinking,

I keep reading in rituals about the Watchtowers. I’m wondering where they come from and why they are important and what they actually do.

Thanks!

Mama C

Dear Mama C,

Good question! They are all over, aren’t they? Did anyone else first encounter them in The Craft (1996)? Well, they’ve been around for a long time, so I had to do some research about where they came from.

From what I can tell, there seem to be several possible origins which sort of coallesqued with Gardner in his magical studies to the point where they seemed almost required to be included in a magical system. Possible origins include:

  • Ancient Rome: small “watchtowers” were built at crossroads with little altars in them for the Lares, or local spirits. These small stone structure dotted the landscape, and would have been associated with ancient pagan ways.
  • Elizabethan England: Dr. John Dee, the official occultist of Queen Elizabeth, worked with Edward Kelly to reveal the Enochian system of magic. They came up with different symbols for each of the directions, which they associated with different stars, colors, elements and angels. The angels were envisioned as guardians of these watchtowers.
  • Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: Because they were well-educated in existing magics, the HOGD adopted the watchtowers for a ritual used to cleanse the space.
  • Kibbo Kift: This off-branch of Woodcraft and the Boy Scouts involved boys in the English countryside holding elaborate rituals in what they believed was the “Indian way”. It was well known that they did ritual in circle and called different elements representing the four directions. While we’ve never heard of it these days, this was a huge movement during Gardner’s time, and Woodcraft was set to out-pace the Boy Scouts if it weren’t for their internal politics conflicting with the two World Wars. These fake Native American ceremonies were popular, but probably not based on any actual particular Native religious ritual.
  • Uncle Gerald: As you probably know, Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, was also well-versed in the magical systems of the day, including the magical formulas used by the Golden Dawn.

Now-a-days, mostly traditional Wiccan groups like Garnerian and Alexandrian covens call upon the Watchtowers. However, you can still find them included in a lot of books, like Silver Ravenwolf’s “Teen Witch”, the Farrar’s “The Witches Way”, and Lady Sheba’s “Book of Shadows” to name a few. As a general rule, I suspect, Wiccans have moved away from the formal magical systems based upon older traditions, and have moved towards a more informal and intuitive practice of ritual.

The purpose of the Watchtowers is whatever you tell them to do. Typically, they might cleanse the circle, witness the rite, maintain the integrity of the magical boundary, and bring their elemental energy into the circle. Remember when you cast a circle, you are creating a miniature universe, so be clear about your purpose. Many traditions say something like:

Hail to the Gaurdian of the Watchtower of (direction), ye lords of (element), I do summon, stir and call thee forth to guard and protect this magic circle. (draw the correct pentagram) So Mote it Be!

The Watchtowers are important precisely because they connect us to this long history of magical ritual. When something is used the same way for a long time, it builds up power. The advantage of this for the beginner is that it requires less experience on their part to get the Watchtowers to do their jobs.

Be sure, however, to send them away when you are done with the Circle–if you take it out, you put it away! I occasionally hear ritualists dismiss the directions by saying “Go if you must, stay if you like”. This is a pet peeve of mine. Would you leave a candle burning unattended? No. It might burn the house down. Elementals, and the Watchtowers that house them, are not human minded, but Elemental minded. They seek to be their element, which is not necessarily what we want from them. Out of control water means flooding.

I have been to places in which the Guardians of the Circle had not been dismissed properly, and had the eerie sensation of being watched. Some people on Circle felt threatened by this energy that was just trying to do its job. The only way to get rid of it is to dismiss it. At the end of ritual, everyone needs to safely come back down to Earth, in our human place of existence in the now. It is the ethical responsibility of the ritualists to make sure this happens, and releasing the Watchtowers, Elementals and any other Circle Guardians (including the Gods) is important. It is polite to make sure everyone knows when to leave.

Always plan any magical act, including ritual, ahead of time. Think about the possible consequences of each action, and remember things get amplified in Circle. Whether or not you include the Watchtowers is up to you, but it can be an easy way to access a stored energy of power to lend to your Circle.

Do you have a question for Witchful Thinking? Whether it is a personal ethical question, or just something you’ve been wondering about the craft, or something you’d like to read about, you can have your question answered on the Internet! Yay! Simply send your question to JamieFreemanTarot@gmail.com, and in a few days, you’ll get a response from me.

This is YOUR place to get answers from a real person–answers you can’t always find in a book. So go on, give it a try! If you enjoy the Dear Witchful Thinking posts, click “advice” in the categories cloud to see them all.

Io Eleusis!

This extended Easter weekend I spent my time at Ft. Flagler on the tip of the Washington peninsula near the San Juan Islands, where we re-enacted and re-interpreted the Greek Mysteries of Eleusis. We use what we know about what happened at a religious center that continuously presented a yearly rite for almost 2000 years. The initiates take an oath of secrecy, which the state upheld, that called for death if anyone should reveal the content of the mysteries. What we do know that happened there that has been allowed to survive in writings, art and sculpture is what we can definitely say was NOT a part of the mystery there.

We know, for example, that it is based upon the mythology surrounding Demeter the Goddess of Grain, her daughter the Kore/Persephone, and Kore’s abduction/marriage/rape by Hades, the God of the Underworld. While there are many myths about this trio, the one that I think is among the most artful is the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. The story tells of Demeter’s loss, and how the Mysteries at Eleusis were founded. Doing a bit of digging, I found some critical essays that talked about how this Hymn was likely written by and for women, the evidence being that Zeus, who is normally made out in the best light with the highest authority, is trumped by women–the writer seems to bite her thumb at Zeus’–and thus male and the state’s–authority. An interesting proto-feminist idea.

The myth explains the seasons, why we have barren times, and takes a mythological look at the growing of food. What makes it magical is that our Priests and Priestesses at the Spring Mysteries Festival will Draw Down or invoke the godform into them. While we know that the original Greeks did not do a theatrical show based on the myth, we use it because it is consistent with Greek culture and still speaks to us today. The rest of our festival is ritual journeying, in which we go into the Underworld to save Persephone, and witness how the events transform everyone, including the Gods.

Because the actors are invoked, the play takes on a whole new dimension. There is real energy being worked that radiates and touches the participants differently. Those who come to the festival come year after year because the Mystery changes and touches them differently. One year, I might really feel strongly about Persephone’s difficult decision between her mother and her new husband. Another year, I might totally identify with Demeter’s loss, victimhood and

A phallic "herma" of Hermes. You can tell it's him by the wand on the side of the block. This is from an Archaic vase painting.

perceived powerlessness. So when Demeter is healed, I am healed. The Mysteries demands a lot of us, and I found myself in tears several times this weekend.

My favorite part of our festival is the Shrine time. The Priests and Priestesses of the Olympian Gods invoke and attend the shrines we have built for them. The site has these individual little buildings that are basically 18×12′ . We decorate them with fabric, rugs, statuary, flowers and foliage, and anything else that might represent the individual godform. The Pan shrine, for example, had a 3 foot phallus made of, well, wood. The shrine also had animal skins, pine boughs, and a gurgling rock fountain. Anyhoo, besides the wonderful shrines, you can visit the Priests and Priestesses that have been working with this energy for months, if not years, and ask them questions. They are bringing divinity in a safe and tangible way, and visiting the shrines is an experience you won’t soon forget. It is something I’m writing and thinking about a lot for my book about invocation.

By the time the weekend is over, you’ve had several days of comradery with other Pagans who witnessed the same rights, visited the shrines, and ate the same food. It’s a fascinating way to create community and recharge your spiritual batteries.

I was really involved this year, and spent several months organizing things behind the scenes, so the end of this weekend represents an end to a great deal of work. The events themselves went off with fewer glitches than I had predicted. I expect that is because of the wonderful cast, crew and staff working so diligently. I’m sad that it’s over, but I recognize it’s time to turn my attention to other projects, like school…and this blog….and work. My inbox misses the attention, though. Every year I leave Ft. Flagler dreaming about next year, making new friends and connections in my practical and spiritual life. It is an event not easily forgotten.

[Fiction] I Need a Priest (part 2)

I saw Hippie Jean just once more after that first time, a year and a day later. I could have picked her out of a crowd any day, with that long soft hair. She wore bellbottoms and a black tank top. Maroon bra.

It was the last show of the tour season and we were back at the state fair, not too far from my home town. I couldn’t believe they’d let us back here after the incident. Security was tight. Real tight. No one would be allowed back stage.

I took my place at the front of the stage, watching the throng of people wait for their beloved Purple Revelry. Waiting for D.  They were not disappointed.

When the band started playing, and he started wailing, ten thousand people stood up and cheered. He loved them, and they turned it right back at him, and I sat in the crossfire, keeping these people at arm’s length. Keeping their madness at bay. The crowd was drunk off of eight-dollar beers, and drunk off D. Thirty years of memories poured out of them, and I swear to God I could see them start to change before my eyes.

The full moon hung in the sky, pouring her lunacy on the crowd. The stereo equipment was, as usual, as loud as it could go. At the end of the song, the audience screamed and cheered, begging for more. He winked at them, and turned to the band to speak with his eyes. “Play it slow. Take them away.”

As an encore, they played something new. It was unearthly. The beat pumped with my heart, calming me immediately. I watched Hippie Jean weave and dance, enthralled. The music started to speed up, faster and faster with the moon pouring down. I watched her spin. I watched the crowd go out of control, dancing, yelling, moshing. I swear to God they moved like animals, snorting like bulls, moving lithe like a cat, or the women rolling their arms like snakes.

The music stopped.

Everyone in the crowd collapsed. The concert was over. No one applauded as they struggled to breathe, wondering what just happened to them. I ain’t been around to see a whole lot, but I’d never seen anything like that. D and Purple Revelry left the stage silently. I followed them through the side door, leaving the mess of tangled, exhausted bodies to fend for themselves.

But I wasn’t alone. In the dark corridor I felt her small hand slip into mine. I smelled sweat, patchouli and ecstasy—I knew it was her, “Please,” she whispered, her voice was small and unsettled, “I need a priest.”

I stopped walking, and she did too, “No one gets back there”. I didn’t know what she meant, and it didn’t matter how much I wanted her as my own, the rules were the same for everyone, even pretty girls.

“You are the gatekeeper?”

“I guess you could say that.”

She pulled her hand away. I thought she would leave, but I didn’t want her too. Instead, she grabbed my jacket and pulled, pulling me to her lips. I was surprised and shocked, but I melted into her, savored her. I didn’t want it to end. The world dimmed away until it was me and her together.

She pulled away and slipped past me. Was I just used? Did she remember me from that night so long ago? Did she know that I was watching her, and dreaming of her from that night until this? Was she dancing for me? I didn’t know.

Slowly the world came back. And so did my responsibility. I hurried down the corridor, to the green room where the band would hang out. For some reason, those groupie girls were there, though I can’t imagine for the world how they got in. D was lounging luxuriously on the couch like he owned the place. Hippie Jean approached him and kneeled next to him. She seemed far away, entranced, and she gave him a bottle of wine.

D inspected the label. He cocked an eyebrow and smiled, then looked straight at me. I wondered what the crazy fucker was thinking. One of the groupies brought him a corkscrew from out of her bra. Normally, it would seem strange that anyone would carry such a thing with them at all, let alone between her titties. But tonight, nothing was normal. The band had seen to it.

D took the corkscrew without looking at the groupie. Almost like an animal, his head jerked to Hippie Jean, holding her gaze, he stood up from the couch. She followed his movements, like a dancer, keeping the same distance between them, and never once breaking eye contact. Slowly and deliberately, like they were fucking, he twisted the screw into the cork. I saw her breathe heavily and I burned with envy. D uncorked the bottle. He took a swig, and offered her one, still without looking away from her eyes: his green to her brown.

That seemed to break the spell. She seemed to break out of herself then. She lifted her tiny hand and slapped D in the face.

I moved towards them, this wasn’t right, but the band got in front of me, shaking their heads. Somehow, whatever was going on needed to happen—and I wasn’t to interfere.

She slapped him again. And again. She balled up her fists and punched him in the stomach, on the chest, in the face. She damn near broke his nose. He did not react in pain, but stoically stood there taking it like a goddamn Indian.

“You sonuvabitch! How dare you hit me! You can’t make me powerless anymore! I’m leaving you and I hate you and I hope you rot in Hell!” she was in a frenzy, and as badly as she was hurting him, I was afraid she’d hurt herself. Her yelling turned to tears and she hit him again and again. It looked like she would never stop. “You bastard! You cocksucker!” she screamed more obscenities than I’d heard growing up in the country. She was fucking pissed.

It was an eternity before D made any move. The bottle of wine was still in his hand and he raised it above her head, poured the whole bottle on top of her. She stopped crying and it was like the wine made her instantly drunk and she started laughing. Laughing like crazy. She stood there dripping and laughing like crazy.

“A bruise for a bruise,” he whispered, “go forward. You are free.” He kissed her on the forehead, spun on his feet and walked towards me. He handed me the bottle and grinned.

“Take care of her, will ya? She’s been through a lot.”

I looked at the bottle label: it was from my parent’s vineyard, from the year I was born. How could she possibly know? I went to her and picked her up bodily. I took her to the only place I could think of and walked out the door and put her on the tourbus. I had never been in where D took the groupies, but my money was that it had a bed.

The sheets looked like ivy going up a wall. I was afraid the vines would come up and take her and I’d never see her again. She had stopped laughing and was crying again. I put her down gently and went to fetch a towel. After all those times drinking and cleaning up after everyone, I knew where the best ones were. I grabbed five. I didn’t know how many towels a girl would need. When I got back she was sitting up, wiping her eyes. I felt like such a prick when I handed her the towels.

“Thanks” she said, “Mr….?”

“Green. Jac—John Green.”

“John.” It was like she was trying out my name to see if she liked the taste on her tongue. She smiled, so I think she did. “Do you drink wine?” she asked, her eyelids were heavy, but her gaze was penetrating and she allowed me a small smile.

“Yeah,” I lied. But then I knew it wasn’t a lie and that I would drink whatever she wanted to give me and nothing else ever again.

The moon shone through the window, on her way back home below the horizon. At the moment we were safe from her influence.

“What should I call you?” I asked.

“Call me yours if you’ll drink with me. I’m celebrating.” Rummaging through a nearby drawer, she produced a bottle of champagne and two fluted glasses. How she knew it was there, I’ll never know.

“Celebrating what?”

“It’s my birthday. I want to spend it with somebody cute.”

I blushed and flustered, “I’ll go get D—“

“No no, get back here John.” It felt weird inside when she said my name. “I don’t even know him. I want someone real.” She handed me a glass and filled it with golden bubbles.

“To us.”

I toasted to that. There would be plenty of time for talking later.